In a surprise, Sherrod Brown says he won't run in 2020

The Democratic senator from Ohio had been on a tour of early voting states, and his decision caught some political watchers off guard.
Image: Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, speaks at a campaign rally in Cleveland on June 13, 2016.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, at a campaign rally in Cleveland on June 13, 2016.Angelo Merendino / Getty Images file

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By Jane C. Timm

Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio announced Thursday that he will not run for president.

The surprise announcement comes after a two-month tour through early voting states, which many believed was the building blocks of a presidential campaign.

"I will keep calling out Donald Trump and his phony populism. I will keep fighting for all workers across the country. And I will do everything I can to elect a Democratic President and a Democratic Senate in 2020. The best place for me to make that fight is in the United States Senate," Brown said in a statement.

Dubbed the "Dignity of Work Tour," Brown's spin through early voting states zeroed in on working-class voters with a populist message. He talked up raising the federal higher minimum wage, the importance of unions and tax cuts for lower-income Americans.

In a statement, however, Brown said he felt that other Democrats were seizing on those same ideas.

“Connie and I have spent the last few months traveling around the country to make dignity of work a centerpiece of Democrats’ 2020 campaign, and we are so grateful to everyone who has welcomed us into their communities and into their lives," he said, referring to his wife, Connie Schultz. "We've seen candidates begin taking up the dignity of work fight, and we have seen voters across the country demanding it — because dignity of work is a value that unites all of us. It is how we beat Trump, and it is how we should govern."

Brown told reporters Thursday that former Vice President Joe Biden — who is weighing a potential bid and would have a similar appeal to working-class voters — had "zero impact" on his decision not to get in the race.

"I'm choosing this because I think I can do better here," he said, referring to the Senate.

Brown and his wife tweeted about the decision.

"I still think @SenSherrodBrown would be a wonderful president," Schultz wrote in one tweet.

Ohio is a swing state in presidential races, one that would have been tough for Democrats to retain if Brown were to win the nomination.

Garrett Haake contributed.